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In Mark Helprin’s 2012 novel In Sunlight and in Shadow*, we meet a returning WWII veteran, Harry Copeland, who inherits the family business from his deceased father. When the business is threatened by a mafia boss, resulting in the death of one employee, and Harry himself nearly beaten to death, Harry learns that he will find no help from law enforcement or any other authority because all of them are being paid off. Harry must decide whether he will take matters into his own hands — eliminating the mafia boss himself.
“My enemy is not the law,” he found himself saying under his breath as he walked — talking to himself was not a good sign — “but the enemy of the law, against which the law is too weak to defend itself. If the law is complicit in crime, is it the law? If, when not complicit, it not only fails to protect but proscribes self-protection, then it is not law but fraud. Anarchy arises not from those who defend themselves by natural right, but from officials who fail in their calling, look the other way, succumb to threats and blackmail, or who are themselves criminal. If without defending me the law says I can’t defend myself, it is no longer the law, and I have to defy it.”